Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

Congenital Torticollis

By

Simeon A. Boyadjiev Boyd

, MD, University of California, Davis

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
Click here for the Professional Version

Congenital torticollis is a birth defect in which the head becomes tilted at or soon after birth.

The most common cause of congenital torticollis is

  • Injury to the baby's neck during delivery

Torticollis that develops within the first few days or weeks of life may result from

  • A hematoma (which is a collection of blood) in the neck muscles

  • Fibrosis (which is an abnormal thickening of tissue)

  • Contracture (stiffening) of the sternocleidomastoid muscle (one of the neck muscles)

  • Klippel-Feil syndrome (fusion of the vertebrae in the neck, a short neck, and a low hairline)

  • Atlanto-occipital fusion (which is fusion of the first vertebra to the bottom of the skull)

To diagnose the defect, doctors do a physical examination. They may also do imaging tests to look for problems with the bones.

When torticollis is due to a birth injury, treatment includes rotating the head and stretching the neck. When torticollis is difficult to treat, doctors inject botulinum toxin into the stiffened neck muscle. The injections relax the stiff muscle.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read

Test your knowledge

Preventive Health Care Visits in Infants
Frequent doctor visits are recommended for all infants younger than 1 year of age. These visits, also called well-child visits, make it possible to check development, look for health problems, provide age-appropriate vaccinations, and educate parents. Which of the following is a condition that might affect some infants born very prematurely, with less than 32 weeks of development in the uterus?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
TOP